John Murray (Victorian politician)
John Murray, Australian politician, was the 23rd Premier of Victoria. Murray was born near Koroit, the son of James Murray and his wife Isabella, née Gordon, both Scottish immigrants; when Murray was a child his parents settled on a farm, Glenample station, at Port Campbell in the Western District of Victoria. Murray attended Allansford National School and, from 1868, Henry Kemmis's Warrnambool Grammar School. Murray was horrified by the poverty he saw there. Murray lived there all his life. On 4 April 1888 Murray married Alice Jane Bateman at Warrnambool having six children. In 1883 Murray opposed James Francis for Warrnambool in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, but was defeated. Francis died in 1884, Murray held it until his death 32 years later. Murray was opposed, in his early days his indulgence in alcohol threatened his career. Murray overcame this weakness and afterwards as an advocate of temperance did not hesitate to mention the danger he had been in. A typical rural conservative, he was Chief Secretary and Minister for Labour in the government of William Irvine from 1902 to 1904, President of the Board of Land and Works and Commissioner of Crown Lands in the government of Thomas Bent from 1904 to 1906.
After 1907, Murray emerged as the leader of a country faction of Bent's Liberal Party which opposed his free-spending policies. In January 1909 he moved a motion of no-confidence in Bent's government and succeeded him as Premier becoming Chief Secretary and Minister for Labour. Murray was chief secretary in 1902-04 and from 1909 formal chairman of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines. Although the Labor Party won the 1910 federal elections, it remained much weaker in Victoria than in other states, at the 1911 state elections Murray's Liberals were re-elected with 43 seats to Labor's 20, but conflict between rural and urban factions of the Liberal Party remained chronic, with the urban leader William Watt undermining Murray just as Murray had undermined Bent. By May 1912 Murray resigned, he accepted office as Chief Secretary in Watt's government from 1912 to 1913 and again from 1913 to 1915. Murray died in Warrnambool on 4 May 1916. Murray was physically a big man, good-natured and well-read, an excellent speaker who used humour and irony.
An able administrator with a tendency to indolence, he was a good leader in the house turning the laugh against his opponents, managing difficult measures with much tact and success. Geoff Browne, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900-84, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985 Don Garden, Victoria: A History, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984 Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1856-1900, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972 Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel. A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856-1990, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992 Serle, Percival. "Murray, John". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 2009-10-30
William Watt (Australian politician)
William Alexander Watt was an Australian politician. He served two terms as Premier of Victoria before entering federal politics in 1914, he served as a minister in the government of Billy Hughes from 1917 to 1920, including as acting prime minister during World War I, as Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1923 to 1926. Watt was born on 23 November 1871 in a rural locality near Kyneton, he was the youngest of eleven children born to James Michie Watt, a farmer. His father was born in Scotland and arrived in Australia in 1843, while his mother was born in Ireland. Watt's father died the year after he was born, the family subsequently moved to Phillip Island. Six years they moved to Melbourne, where Watt began his education at the Errol Street State School, he left school at a young age, finding work as a newsboy and as a clerk at an ironmongery and a tannery. In 1888 he began attending night classes in accountancy at the Working Men's College, he qualified as an accountant and became a partner in a "hay and corn store".
Watt was secretary of the North Melbourne Debating Club and served on the executive of the Australasian Federation League of Victoria. He was prominent in the Australian Natives' Association and campaigned for federation, becoming a protege of the Victorian liberal leader Alfred Deakin. In 1897 Watt was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for North Melbourne, defeating Labor's George Prendergast, but at the 1900 election Prendergast recaptured the seat. In 1902 he was returned for the safe liberal seat of East Melbourne, holding that seat until 1904, when he shifted to Essendon. In 1899 he became Postmaster-General in the short-lived government of Allan McLean sat out Thomas Bent's government, returning to office under John Murray in 1909 as Treasurer, a post he held until 1912. By that time he was leader of the "urban" faction of the Liberal Party, opposed to Murray's rural-dominated government; when Murray resigned as Premier on 12 May, Watt succeeded him. In December 1913 the rural faction, now led by Donald McLeod, moved a successful no-confidence motion in Watt's government, with Labor support.
McLeod expected to become Premier, but instead the acting Governor, Sir John Madden, sent for the Labor leader, George Elmslie, who formed Victoria's first Labor government. This forced the Liberal factions to re-unite, a few days Elmslie was duly voted out and Watt resumed office. Frustrated by his inability to overcome the factionalism of the Victorian Liberals and pass any effective legislation, Watt resigned as Premier in June 1914, allowing Sir Alexander Peacock to re-assume the Liberal leadership. At the 1914 federal election Watt was elected Liberal member for the seat of Balaclava, he became a leading member of the Nationalist Party when it was formed in 1916 under the leadership of Billy Hughes, in 1917 he was appointed Minister for Works and Railways in the Hughes Government. By now he was regarded as a hard-line conservative. In March 1918 Watt was appointed Treasurer, became in effect Hughes's deputy; when Hughes left Australia for London in April, Watt became Acting Prime Minister, a position he held until Hughes returned from the Versailles peace conference in August 1919.
It was during his time as Treasurer that Watt opined that the war effort was best served by "...putting the country into the hands of a Committee of Public Safety. It is doubtful if a democracy can fight a great autocracy." During this period he had the portfolio of Trade and Customs. For his service as Acting Prime Minister, Watt was appointed to the Imperial Privy Council in the 1920 New Year Honours, entitling him to the style "The Right Honourable", he was a trusted figure in Melbourne business circles and shared the dissatisfaction that most conservatives felt at the erratic and autocratic way Hughes ran the government. He disliked Hughes and felt that Hughes had not acknowledged his efforts as Acting Prime Minister. Although he remained loyal in public, he was keen to leave Hughes's ministry, was seen by many as Hughes's successor. In April 1920 Hughes dispatched Watt to London on a financial mission. Watt was in poor health, his suspicion that Hughes was trying to get him out of the way was aggravated by Hughes's habit of communicating directly with the British government over the head of Watt, his representative.
Watt was appointed Australia's representative at the Spa Conference on War reparations, but when Hughes cabled that Watt was not to agree to anything without consulting him, Watt complained that he was being treated like "a telegraph messenger." After an acrimonious exchange of cables, Watt returned to Australia. Watt spent the next two years on the back bench. At the 1922 elections he supported rebel former Liberals in Victoria who opposed Hughes and stood against Nationalist candidates: one of these, John Latham, won the seat of Kooyong from the Nationalist member. After the elections, the newly formed Country Party held the balance of power, used it to force Hughes's resignation. Watt was passed over for leadership of the new coalition government in favour of the Treasurer, Stanley Bruce; as a consolation prize Watt was elected Speaker, a position he held until 1926. Although was not happy about the demands on his time made by the move of the federal parliament from Melbourne to Canberra in 1927, he re-contested his seat at the 1928 federal election, but resigned from parliament nine months on medical advice.
Watt was chairman of a several companies which operated out of his base in Collins House, M
Sir Graham Berry,Australian colonial politician, was the 11th Premier of Victoria. He was one of the most radical and colourful figures in the politics of colonial Victoria, made the most determined efforts to break the power of the Victorian Legislative Council, the stronghold of the landowning class. Berry was born in Twickenham, near London, where his father, Benjamin Berry, was a licensed victualler, he had a primary education until 11 years old became an apprentice draper. In 1848 he married Harriet Ann Blencowe. In 1852 he migrated to Victoria, went into business as a grocer in Prahran as a general storekeeper in South Yarra, his business skills and Victoria's booming economy soon made him a wealthy man. After his first wife's death he married Rebekah Evans in 1871. At his death, Berry was survived by eight of the children from his first marriage and all seven of the children from his second marriage. In Victoria, Berry, by voracious reading, acquired the education he had missed in England, taught himself economics and philosophy.
But all his life he retained a broad London accent, which many Victorian conservatives found offensive or amusing. In Parliament he once asked the Speaker: "What is now before the'Ouse?" To which the Leader of the Opposition interjected: "An H!" He developed a powerful rhetorical style modelled on that of his hero Gladstone effective in the rough-house of the colonial Parliament or on the hustings. The conservative newspaper The Argus conceded: "His oratory might not be polished: it was not—but it was passionate, it told." Noted for his humour, Berry was a tough and determined politician. Berry was elected to the Legislative Assembly for East Melbourne at a by-election in 1861, as what The Argus called "an extreme liberal." At the general election in the same year he switched to Collingwood famously the most radical electorate in the colony. He was re-elected in 1864, but his criticism of James McCulloch's government during the tariff crisis of 1865 led to his defeat in that year's snap election.
In 1866 Berry moved to Geelong, where he started a newspaper, the Geelong Register, as a rival to the established Geelong Advertiser. Using the paper as a platform, he was elected for Geelong West in February 1869. In 1877 he switched to Geelong, which he represented until February 1886, he was Treasurer in John MacPherson's government in 1870. When Charles Gavan Duffy formed a strong liberal government in June 1871, Berry again became Treasurer, he was a convinced protectionist, steered a bill for increased tariffs through the Parliament. After the conservative interlude of the Francis and Kerferd governments, Berry assumed leadership of the liberals and became Premier and Treasurer in August 1875, but the liberal majority in the Assembly was unreliable, in October the government's budget was defeated and Berry resigned. He was refused, he campaigned across the colony in opposition to the third McCulloch government. At the May 1877 election, with the powerful backing of the Melbourne Age under David Syme, he won a huge liberal majority in the Assembly and returned to office at the head of a radical ministry.
Berry's election manifesto proposed a punitive land tax designed to break up the squatter class's great pastoral properties – about 800 men at this time owned most of Victoria's grazing lands. He advocated a high tariff to foster local manufacturing, which threatened to harm the importing and banking interests, he promised that if the Council, elected on a limited property-based franchise, blocked his program, it would be "dealt with according to its deserts." He described the Council as "a chamber which robs the people of the gold in the soil and the land God gave them." Given that there was no mechanism in the Victorian Constitution to override the Council, this was taken by conservatives to be a threat of revolutionary violence. Berry had no plans for illegal measures, but the Councillors were sufficiently alarmed to pass a modified version of Berry's land tax bill, despite the urgings of the ultra-conservative former Premier Sir Charles Sladen to reject it outright. Berry, next introduced a bill for the payment of members of the Assembly, which the trade unions were demanding so that working class candidates could be elected.
Berry "tacked" the bill to the Appropriation Bill so that Council could not reject it without paralysing the Colony's finances. The Council resented this blackmail and at Sladen's urging declined to pass the bill, laying it aside. With the two Houses deadlocked, Berry embarked on a public campaign of "coercion" against the Council. "We coerce madmen", he said, "We put them into lunatic asylums, never was anything more the act of madmen than the rejection of the Appropriation Bill." To bring matters to a head, on 8 January 1878 Berry's government began to dismiss public servants, starting with police and judges, arguing that without an Appropriation Bill they could not be paid. Berry next brought in a bill to strip the Council of its powers, which the Council of course rejected. For the next two years Berry clung to office while the colony was gripped with class conflict, including huge torchlit processions through Melbourne sponsored by The Age and The Argus – although, there was no violence.
No legislation was passed and the administration ground to a halt as funds ran out. Berry's next tactic was to pass a bill through the Assembly stating that finance bills did not need to be passed by the Council, but would beco
James Service,Australian colonial politician, was the 12th Premier of Victoria, Australia. Service was born in Kilwinning, Scotland, the son of Robert Service; as a young man James worked in a Glasgow tea importing Thomas Corbett and Company. In 1853 he arrived in Melbourne as a company representative, the following year went into business on his own forming James Service and Company and wholesale merchants, which became a large and prosperous organization still in business many years after his death, he was a founding member of the Emerald Hill municipal council in 1855, of the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1866, going on to become a prominent banker and representative of Melbourne business interests. Service was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for Melbourne in a by-election in March 1857, retaining this seat until August 1859, he represented Ripon and Hampden from October 1859 to around August 1862, Maldon from May 1874 to March 1881 and Castlemaine from June 1883 to February 1886.
He was a moderate liberal in the context of Victorian politics, but as a free trader he sided with the conservatives, since all the more radical liberals were protectionists. He was President of the Board of Land and Works in the Nicholson government from 1859 to 1860 and Treasurer in the Kerferd government from 1874 to 1875, his attempt to cut tariffs in his 1875 budget led to the fall of Kerferd's government. When Graham Berry's radical ministry fell in March 1880, Service formed a minority government. In May Service admitted that he could not go on and asked the Governor, Lord Normanby, for a dissolution, granted, but the elections did not improve Service's position and in August he resigned, allowing Berry to return to power. In March 1883 the liberals under Berry's successor, Sir Bryan O'Loghlen were defeated at elections, Service formed a new and much stronger government, taking the Treasury as well as the Premiership; when Service agreed not to attempt to reduce tariffs, Berry joined him as a minister: such was the fluidity of party politics at this time.
The young Alfred Deakin held office for the first time in this government. The Service government lasted three years and passed some important legislation, including a Public Service Act which removed political patronage from the public service, a new Factories Act and a new Lands Act. In June 1883, at a banquet at Albury celebrating the opening of the railway line between Sydney and Melbourne, Service raised the question of Australian federation, he supported Sir Thomas McIlwraith in his action with regard to the annexation of New Guinea, suggested the inter-colonial conference, held at Sydney in November 1883. There a bill constituting a federal council was framed, carried by Service through the Victorian parliament in 1884. Service himself desired the establishment of a federal government, but the other premiers were comparatively lukewarm and the proposed council was to have limited powers. By the time of the 1886 election Service was in declining health and decided to retire from active politics and return to England for a while.
In 1888 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council for Melbourne Province, served there until April 1899. Geoff Browne, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900-84, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985 Don Garden, Victoria: A History, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984 Martin, Arthur Patchett. "A typical Australian statesman". Australia and the Empire. Edinburgh: David Douglas. Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1856-1900, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972 Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel. A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856-1990, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992 Serle, Percival. "Service, James". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson
William Irvine (Australian politician)
Sir William Hill Irvine, GCMG, Irish born-Australian politician and judge, was the 21st Premier of Victoria. Irvine was born in Newry in County Down, into a Scottish-Presbyterian family, he was educated at the Royal School and Trinity College, graduating in law in 1879 before migrating to Melbourne, where he taught in Presbyterian schools and read law at Melbourne University, gaining a master's degree in arts and law. He soon became a leading Melbourne barrister. In 1894, Irvine was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as a liberal, he was Attorney-General 1899–1900 and 1902–03 and Solicitor-General in 1903. He succeeded George Turner as leader of the Victorian Liberals, but was much more conservative than either Turner or the federal Protectionist Party leader, Alfred Deakin. In 1902 he displaced the more liberal Alexander Peacock and became Premier and Treasurer, holding office until 1904, when he was succeeded by Thomas Bent. In 1906, Irvine was elected to the Australian House of Representatives for the seat of Flinders.
First elected as an independent Protectionist, he became a member of Deakin's Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1908. He was Attorney-General in Joseph Cook's Liberal government of 1913–14, he was considered a potential Prime Minister of Australia, but his abrupt manner and hard-line conservatism made him unacceptable to many Liberals: he was known in Parliament as "Iceberg Irvine." Recognising this, Irvine accepted the appointment as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the highest ranking court in the Australian State of Victoria. He held this position from 1918 until 1935, he was knighted KCMG in 1914 and made GCMG in 1936. A keen motorist, he was a founding member of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria and was its patron from 1938 through 1943. In 1932 a painting of Irvine by Ernest Buckmaster won the Archibald Prize, Australia's best-known portrait prize. On appointment 10 June 1902: Premier and Attorney-General: William Irvine Treasurer: William Shiels Solicitor-General: John Mark Davies Minister of Railways: Thomas Bent Minister of Education and Health: Robert Reid Minister of Public Works and Agriculture: Mr. Taverner President of Board of Lands: Mr. McKenzie Minister of Mines: Mr. Cameron Chief Secretary and Minister of Labour: Mr. Murray Judiciary of Australia List of Judges of the Supreme Court of Victoria Geoff Browne, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900–84, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985 Don Garden, Victoria: A History, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984 Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1856–1900, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972 Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel.
A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856–1990, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992 Supreme Court of Victoria Website
Sir Thomas Bent was an Australian politician and the 22nd Premier of Victoria. He was one of the most corrupt politicians in Victorian history. Bent was born in Penrith, New South Wales the eldest of four sons and two daughters of James Bent, a hotel-keeper, he came to Melbourne with his parents in 1849. He went to school in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy becoming a market-gardener in East Brighton. In 1861 he became a rate collector for the town council of Brighton a fast-growing suburb, he soon began buying and selling land in Brighton, became a property developer in new areas close by, such as Moorabbin. He developed the suburb of Bentleigh, named after himself, he was Mayor of Brighton nine times. In 1871 Bent was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the district of Brighton, defeating the veteran liberal George Higinbotham "to the amazement of every one", he had no particular party loyalties and first held office in the Service government in 1880. He was Commissioner for Works and Railways in Sir Bryan O'Loghlen's government in 1881–1883, used this position to extend the railway line from Caulfield to Cheltenham, thus enormously increasing the value of his own property developments.
His lifelong reputation for corruption dates from this period. The exposure of Bent's dealings led to the defeat of O'Loghlen's government at the 1883 elections. After this debacle Bent spent 18 years on the backbench, his fortunes suffered a reversal in 1888 when a bad investment in Ringwood caused the collapse of the Thomas Bent Land Co. but he soon recovered and became a leading player in the great Land Boom that reached its climax in 1890. For instance, in 1884 Bent purchased property in Exhibition Street for 1488 pounds and on the same day resold it for 2000 pounds. In 1892 he surprised his critics by being elected Speaker as part of a complex political deal. A newspaper asked: "Why is Speaker Bent the first commoner in the land? Because no-one commoner than Bent can be found." There was an element of snobbery in this. Bent was the first Victorian Premier with a strong Australian accent, was held in contempt by the Anglo-Scottish Melbourne establishment. In the severe crash that followed the boom Bent was bankrupted, with debts of 80,000 pounds.
He had transferred many of his assets to his wife's name and this saved him from bankruptcy. At the election which followed the fall of James Patterson's government, Bent was defeated at Brighton, his fate was sealed when The Age published letters Bent had written as Railways Minister in 1881, offering MPs railways lines in their electorates in exchange for their votes. Bent moved with his wife Elizabeth and their two daughters to Port Fairy, where he took up dairy farming, but he had not given up his political ambitions. In 1897 he unsuccessfully stood for Port Fairy in 1900 he moved back to Melbourne, at the November 1900 election he was re-elected for Brighton, he completed his comeback by becoming once again Minister for Railways in William Irvine's conservative government. He was soon up to his old tricks, buying land in Brighton and approving a tramline from St Kilda to Brighton that led right past his properties. Despite his reputation, Bent was chosen as the new Liberal leader in Victoria when Irvine quit to go into federal politics in 1904, thus became Premier at the age of 66.
By this time Bent had grown fat and his jovial manner, together with Victoria's gradual recovery from the 1890s depression, gained him renewed popularity. In addition to being premier, Bent had the portfolios of public railways. Much legislation was passed relating to improvements in public health, old age pensions, water conservation. At the June 1904 elections he won a comfortable majority, did so again in 1907, his government favoured more state intervention in the economy than had 19th century liberal governments, there was now agreement on the need for high tariffs to protect Victorian industry. His greatest boast was that he restored prosperity to Victoria. During 1908, Bent's government began to disintegrate as a result of conflict between country and city interests—a perennial problem for non-Labor governments in Victoria. A bloc of country members led by John Murray opposed Bent's Land Valuation Bill, to appease them Bent withdrew the bill and appointed several of Murray's supporters to the ministry.
But this antagonised Melbourne Liberals led by William Watt, in January 1909 the various dissidents united to defeat Bent in the Assembly. Bent resigned and Murray became Premier. Bent died on 17 September 1909 at his home in Brighton, he had been made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1908. He was buried in Brighton Cemetery, he was married twice, to Miss Huntley. His estate was valued at 35,000 pounds, most of this went to his daughter from his second marriage. A statue of Bent was erected in 1913 on the Nepean Brighton. For many years "Tommy Bent's statue" was a well-known Melbourne landmark, which, at the time of the Victorian Football League grand final, would be decorated with a cap and scarf in the colours of the team that won the premiership. In the late 1960s the statue was defaced by a bucket of white paint—perhaps a local New Year's Eve prank; the widening of the highway in the 1970s led to the statue being moved to a less prominent location near Bay Street, where it still is.
Serle, Percival. "Bent, Thomas". Dictionary of Australian
James Patterson (Australian politician)
Sir James Brown Patterson, Australian colonial politician, was the 17th Premier of Victoria. Patterson was born in 1833 at Patterson Cottage, Northumberland, England to James Patterson and Agnes, née Brown. Patterson emigrated to Victoria in 1852 to seek his fortune on the goldfields. After a few years as a digger and four as a farmer, he settled in Chewton, where he went into business as a butcher moving into real estate, he was Mayor of Chewton for four years before he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for Castlemaine in 1870. A moderate conservative, Patterson served in the second third governments of the liberal leader Graham Berry, as Commissioner for Public Works in August 1875 and as Commissioner for Public Works and Vice-President of the Board of Land and Works in 1877–1880. From July 1878 to March 1880 he was Postmaster-General. After 1881 he went into opposition, under the leadership of Duncan Gillies, was Commissioner for Trade and Customs in the Gillies government from 1889 to 1890.
With the onset of the depression which followed the end of the Land Boom in 1891, Patterson emerged as the leader of the conservative critics of the governments of James Munro and William Shiels, who tried to deal with the crash by cutting government expenditure and raising taxes. Patterson spoke for the business and middle classes who did not want increased taxation at a time of depressed trade. In January 1893 Patterson moved a successful no-confidence motion in the Shiels government and became Premier. Patterson's government, had no better solutions to the depressed state of Victoria's government. A series of bank failures in April lead Patterson to declare a "bank holiday" preventing panicked depositors from withdrawing their money. There were near-riots outside the closed banks, confidence in the colony's finances plummeted. In the year Patterson became convinced that tax increases were after all inevitable, which the liberal opposition supported, but his conservative supporters revolted and he withdrew the idea, leaving himself with no policy at all.
Affairs drifted until August 1894. At the resulting elections the conservatives were defeated by the liberals under George Turner. Patterson returned to the opposition benches and was created K. C. M. G. in 1894. He was still a member of Parliament when he died on 30 October 1895 from influenza in Murrumbeena, Victoria. An 1893 portrait of Patterson by Gordon Coutts hangs in the Victorian Parliament House. Geoff Browne, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900–84, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985 Don Garden, Victoria: A History, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984 Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1856–1900, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972 Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel. A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856–1990, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992